Olden, the former NBA journeyman, was attending a funeral at that moment.
His father, who was retired from a life of doing everything to make ends meet, was in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
"Right after [the funeral] was done, we left the cemetery," Olden recounted to me by phone on Wednesday in a weary sounding voice. "It was five after two (Pacific time), which was five after five Haiti time. All of a sudden, the text messages started coming in."
The earthquake of a century had struck Haiti.
"I was sitting in church and my dad and Haiti popped into my head," Olden wondered aloud. "It was almost like I had a vision."
Then everything went to a blur for Olden, just as it did for the rest of an estimated 850,000 Haitian immigrants in the United States, and more scattered elsewhere throughout the world, as word and eventually images of the devastation of their homeland spread.
He called his father from his cell phone and got nothing. He sent his father a text and received no response. Over and over again he did both only to get the same agonizing and gut-wrenching result.
Olden said he retreated to his bedroom and turned on the television. There he remained flipping the channels from one all-news network to another, from one news account to the next, just hoping to catch of glimpse of the man he called dad. He saw images of the Parliament turned to rubble. The tax office collapsed. Schools fallen. The main hospital in ruin. Church steeples toppled. He heard Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive say there were probably over 100,000 people dead.
"I didn't know what to do," Olden said. "I was just stuck there, waiting to hear."
His father wasn't the only member of the family who was back in the country and, despite phone calls and text messages and emails, unaccounted for. There were his uncles on his mother's side and their families.
But Olden's father grew up as an only child. His immediate family was here and everyone was looking forward to celebrating Lester's 75th birthday later this year.
That Olden was a workhorse of a player in 15 seasons in the NBA, after being drafted in 1987 a season after he left Virginia, was due heavily to his dad's ethic. Olden's dad, standing 6-3 but taller for the family, left Haiti for the United States in 1968 to work and pave a way to bring over the rest of the family. He drove a cab. He worked at an auto parts' manufacturer in New Jersey. He made enough by 1970 to bring Olden's mom, Suzanne, over.
"They basically worked until they were able to save for us to come," Olden said, referring to him and his siblings. "They sent for us in 1972."
That was Olden, his brother and sister. And when they got here -- their parents settled in the New York area -- they were greeted by another brother born in the states.
Olden grew to seven feet as a star at All Hallows High School in the Bronx. He played three seasons at Virginia and one in Italy before the Bulls picked him in the first round of the 1987 draft and traded him to Seattle for the rights to Scottie Pippen.
For the next 15 years, Olden played for the SuperSonics, the Clippers, Pistons, Kings and the Jazz, before retiring in 2004 with the Clippers. He was never a big scorer, with just six seasons in which he averaged double-digit points. But he had three seasons at mid-career where he pulled an average of at least 11 rebounds per game.
I remember and respect Olden most, however, for what he did off the court for three weeks during Black History Month in 1993. That February, Olden started fasting. He didn't do it to lose any of his sinewy 250-pound frame. He did it to bring attention to his people.
In the aftermath of bloody military coup in September 1991 that overthrew Haiti's democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, some 40,000 Haitians fled their country by anything that floated to the United States. They said they were politically persecuted, but the U.S. government refused most of them and turned them around.
Only about 10,000 were ruled to have legitimate claims as political refugees. But amid the HIV/AIDS scare, they were forcibly subjected to screening and about 200 tested positive and were detained indefinitely at Guantanamo in Cuba. They protested with a hunger strike and Olden emulated them to underscore their plight.
"It was my duty being from Haiti," Olden told me.
Olden reminded me that Haiti became the first stop on the holocaustic Trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was where the first enslaved Africans rose up to regain their freedom and make their independence. Haiti eventually became a jewel of the Caribbean before dictatorship and terms of trade impoverished it. But none of that ever defeated the spirit and will of Haitians like Olden.
"Haitians trying to escape persecution are put in jail when they arrive or catch them off the sea, but any other race when they get there we give them parades," Olden said, his voice strengthening for the moment. "That was my problem with it [U.S. policy in '93]. That was why I decided to strike, to bring awareness to that cause."
It was the Clinton Administration that Olden fought. Tuesday and Wednesday he found himself counting on former President Clinton as the United Nation's first special envoy to Haiti.
As Olden's eyes got bleary staring at the television screen hour after hour after hour after the initial news broke of the earthquake, he tried in vain to catch a flight to Haiti to look for his dad and help the millions in need.
"They shut down the airlines, but as soon as it's possible to get down there I will. I know Wyclef [Jean]," the Haitian music star and his friend, "went down there ... but they said only media and relief workers are getting through, but hopefully I'll get down there."
It was late Wednesday afternoon in the East when Olden and I concluded our conversation and I began to write this column. It was about 8 p.m. when I unexpectedly heard from him again.
"My sister just called and said my dad called someone in New York," Olden said. "He's fine."
Then, Olden exhaled.
"Now, he's trying to find the rest of our family members."